PA athletes take the next step towards their future on National Signing Day

Abby Hendrickson, Bella Coulter, Staff Writer

By Abby Hendrickson and Bella Coulter

The packed auditorium fell silent as the athletes on stage bent over their papers and began to sign. 

The scribbling of pen on paper heightened the anticipation, before the audience erupted into cheers to celebrate the success of their classmates.

Posters waved, hands clapped, people shouted; the next chapter of these students’ lives was about to begin, and the school happily supported them every signature of the way. 

Several Princess Anne athletes recently participated in National Signing Day, where they publicly signed to the university to which they committed. They proudly sported the merchandise of their respective schools, while their peers, families, and coaches watched them reach an important milestone in their athletic career. 

Baseball player Tyler Horton was one of these athletes, and signed in honor of his verbal commitment to Radford University made on Sept. 7. 

This commitment came as a bit of a shock, as Radford had not really been on Horton’s radar until right before he committed. 

“It was actually a big surprise,” said Horton.

He received a call from Coach Karl Kuhn, who had previously been a baseball coach at UVA.

“I still thought he was at UVA, so I was like wow, okay, UVA’s calling me,” said Horton. He found out that Coach Kuhn had recently transitioned to the head coaching position at Radford, and wanted to talk to him about continuing his athletic career.

“He told me … I want you to be my first signee,” Horton said. “That kind of was how I got the Radford spot.” Horton quickly toured the campus and verbally committed within a week of the phone call.

He was thrilled to receive the offer, getting one step closer to his ultimate goal.

“I have a dream of playing a sport professionally and a guy like Coach Kuhn … with his unbelievable track record and his expertise in pitching, it kind of just makes me realize that I have a very good next four years coming up,” said Horton. “Hopefully he’s going to be able to get me where I can hopefully pursue my dreams and play professionally.”

Horton celebrated and enjoyed relaxing for a couple weeks before diving right back into practices and training for this next chapter of his life.

“It was great, but it also was eye-opening and it kind of made me realize that I have to prepare for the next level now,” he said. 

Fellow baseball player Thomas Crandall had a slightly different experience with committing to his university, and ending up signing for Virginia Wesleyan.

“I just called the coaches,” said Crandall. “I just went up there and asked them straight up if it was a possibility and it went from there.”

In contrast to Horton’s commitment choice, Crandall had been looking at Virginia Wesleyan for the past couple of years.

“I talked to a few players and then one of their old coaches to just get an idea of if I really liked it or not,” said Crandall. He decided that the university was the right fit for him, and committed back in October.

“It’s exciting. I’m a little bit nervous, but I’m excited to know where I’m going,” Crandall said.

Since his commitment, Crandall has had the opportunity to visit the campus multiple times to watch practices and tour his future home. 

“I’m honestly really excited to go up there and start practicing with them because I liked what they were doing,” he said. “The visits were really cool because I got to see every part of the campus every time, so I got to see where I would be for classes and dorming.”

All of his years of hard work on and off the field have paid off with his commitment, and he is thrilled to be given the opportunity to continue playing baseball in college.

“I’m just really happy about it,” said Crandall. “It’s something I’ve been striving for.”

And on the girls’ side,  Alyssa Vitale has committed to Lafayette College to further her volleyball career. In the past three years of Vitale playing setter on PA’s team, she has been named to first-team All-State, first-team All-Region, and first-team All-Tidewater. Andthe Lady Cavs won states twice, and were finalists for states once more. 

Although Alyssa officially committed to Lafayette back in November, she still found the whole event exciting, even if it was more ceremonial for her. “It was really awesome to see everyone wanting to pursue sports in their life,” she said. 

In reference to the atmosphere of her future school, Vitale said, “I’m really looking forward to being part of a bigger culture, and just being in the college experience and playing at a higher level.”

Her excitement for her college experience was amplified when she visited.

“The whole school was everything I was looking for. The moment I stepped on campus, I just knew. The way the professors acted and the way that the teammates on the volleyball team acted made me know this is where I want to be,” said Vitale. 

Several more athletes also honored their college commitments with Horton, Crandall, and Vitale, setting themselves up to continue their athletic careers and build their future. They were all smiles as they signed on National Signing Day, satisfied with the decision that they had made.

“I’m going to be in good hands,” said Horton.


Jasha Clinton – Temple University (basketball)

Josh Crumbly – Bridgewater University (lacrosse)

Trevor Fergtuson – Old Dominion University (soccer)

Grant Parkman – Virginia Wesleyan University (soccer)

Omar Gonzalez – Patrick Henry University (baseball)

Tyler Horton – Radford University (baseball)

Thomas Crandall – Virginia Wesleyan University (baseball)

Erin Gray – Averett University (volleyball)

Alyssa Vitale – Lafayette College (volleyball)

Riley Johnson – Washington College (swimming)

Tommy Baldwin – Averett University (wrestling)